Entire plane to return five deportees
The Samoan Government has approved a year-long request from the United States Government to deport Samoan citizens guilty of criminal offences committed on American soil ranging from fatal traffic offences to domestic violence.
A plane will be dedicated to transporting just five deportees back to Samoa, the interim Chairman of the National Emergency Operation Centre (N.E.O.C.) told the Samoa Observer.
The flight, which will be paid for by the American Government, will leave for Faleolo International Airport on 5 February.
All five of the returning Samoan citizens are men, Agafili confirmed.
The flight is one of several repatriation flights scheduled this year for citizens who had been stranded overseas amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is our responsibility to return our citizens (the deportees) who were born here and migrated to mainland America via American Samoa and Hawaii,” he said.
“They have convictions for traffic offences that caused death, assault, theft and even beating up their wives that resulted in her reporting [deportees to the authorities]…”
Upon returning to Samoa and undergoing the mandatory quarantine requirement the offenders will join the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust programme.
The programme that was established by the Government in 2013 is to help the returnees resettle and for rehabilitation, Agafili added.
He said some of the deportees became married and had children while in the United States but had not processed their immigration papers to allow them to legally reside in a country.
The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, revealed schedules for incoming flights to Samoa in the coming months.
They include plans to return Samoan sailors who had previously been stranded in the United States and the Bahamas while working for the Mediterranean Shipping Company.
A repatriation flight for the sailors had originally been scheduled to arrive back in Apia before Christmas.
But it was delayed after two returning sailors tested positive for the coronavirus in what ultimately proved to be an instance of historical cases which were no longer contagious.
The sailors are now on standby for a flight to leave Los Angeles and make its way to Samoa via Dubai and then New Zealand, the Prime Minister said.
The latest scheduled flights announced by the Prime Minister were scheduled for 5 March and 26 March.